The summer holidays have arrived! It’s generally a time for relaxation and spending quality time with your children. It can also be a stressful time for separated parents if you can’t agree how to share the care of the children over the summer, or your ex does not agree to you taking the children abroad.
If you’re planning a holiday with the children outside of England and Wales and there is no residence or a child arrangements order in your favour which specifies the children live with you, then you need permission first from all of those who have Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child. Most parents after separation agree the arrangements for the children (this used to be known as custody or access) privately without involving the court. For those parents, no court order will be in force and therefore permission will be needed from the other parent before going on holiday with the children.
What does PR mean?
PR means “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his or her property”. By law, this means that you need to consult the other parent with regard to major decisions regarding the children for example, change of school, medical treatment, religion, and obtain the other parent’s consent in advance if you plan to take the children abroad.
If you and your ex are not able to agree the holiday arrangements directly or through solicitor negotiation, then either of you can make an application to the family court for a ‘Child Arrangements Order’. If the other parent refuses to give you permission to take the children abroad, then you will also need to apply for a Specific Issue Order from the court under The Children Act 1989. You are effectively asking the court to grant you permission to go abroad with the children. If you don’t have the other parent’s consent and you go abroad, then it could be considered child abduction.
A quicker and more cost effective way of trying to agree the children’s arrangements (including holidays) is by using family mediation. You cut through the correspondence and the cost is fixed so there are no hidden costs. I am an experienced mediator who deals specifically in relation to children disputes.